TV Binge: Stranger Things (Season 1, 2016)

We FINALLY saw Stranger Things and not to mention, properly binge watched it over our week off from work. It only took us maybe two sittings to get through it all and that is a compliment to it. Whenever we turned it off, we’d always keep wanting to go back to see what happens. That is what makes a good show. But a lot of you already know that since I think we may be the only people in the world with Netflix that hasn’t seen it yet. However, this also gives us an advantage to not have such a long wait for Season 2.

Stranger Things (Season 1, 2016)

Stranger Things

Creator: Matt Duffer & Ross Duffer

Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp

When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back. – IMDB

I’m going to admit that I put off watching Stranger Things because I tend to avoid watching things when they are mega hyped up. Almost anything that you go in with the expectation of it being the best thing ever made is going to somehow disappoint with a few rare exceptions, I’d say. I can’t say that Stranger Things is the best show in the world because I can think of a few that I’d probably rank before just for its entertainment value and how I get immersed into it but Stranger Things is definitely an awesome show. Its one that will have its creepy moments but at the same time offer thrills at every corner. It also helps that the cast and story and atmosphere is incredibly charming and wonderfully crafted. What deserves a lot of credit for this film is not only the physical town they are in with its mysterious government facility closed to the public but also the way they utilize the area around it from the forest to every backdrop for the show. The setting creates a lot of it and of course its effective use of building up the Upside Down and how they implemented the use of lights.

Stranger Things

I have no idea where to even start with this write-up so lets just start with our stars: The kids or are you really called The Losers (like in IT?) Anyways, details that I can’t remember because I’m really bad at remembering things like that. However, they were fantastic. Of course, Will (played by Noah Schnapp) wasn’t really there for most of the series as he was the one kidnapped but the other kids here are great, especially seeing that they were able to give them distinct personalities and how they are very cool (and nerdy) with their Dungeons and Dragons match at the beginning, which gave us a good feeling of who these kids were. They are such colorful characters and their naivety in dealing with this situation really helped them feel like they were kids faced with something way over their heads and had to find the courage to figure it out and help their friend out. And here’s where we meet Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown who doesn’t have a lot of dialogue but carries her role proficiently. Eleven is possibly one of my favorite characters of Stranger Things because of where she starts and her story, she also has a lot of character development and you all know, I’m a sucker for that.

Stranger Things

Looking to the teens, we have Nancy, played by Natalia Dyer. I’ve seen her before in a movie called I Believe In Unicorns and you can check out the review HERE. She did great there as well. Something about Nancy here makes her also a fantastic character with a lot of development. When she starts, you see her be that nerdy girl who just loves being liked by the popular crowd at school. She seems to forget who she is but somehow in the process of trying to find her best friend who disappears, she teams up with an unpopular character, Jonathan (played by Charlie Heaton) and sparks a somewhat triangle (but not) relationship alongside her boyfriend Steve. This group also being very compelling to watch as they all find growth in their characters and are each great in their own ways. Natalia however does take it away with her awesome acting and how she finds that courage to be pretty badass by the end of the season.

Stranger Things

And then we have the adults. Before we move on, here is where the magic also is for the show to be able to find characters to like for every age group. The adults were equally strong. Winona Ryder plays a powerful mom who is dedicated and believes that her son is still in danger and that he isn’t dead no matter what she sees in front of her. She might sound crazy but she has to do what she has to do to bring her son back and those moments are some of the most intense especially as she find s way to communicate with Will. Alongside the adult crew is the sheriff, played by David Harbour. If we were to talk about a tough guy, David Harbour is a great sheriff, one with a painful story as well that they touched on slightly. However, while he had some softer moments, he also had some great one-liners and it worked so well with his role. Being movie goers, we’re cynical about many things and at times, we even question our characters actions and Sheriff Jim Hopper makes some crazy decisions at times for the investigation and truly has us at the edge of our seat as he pieces everything together.

Overall, Season 1 of Stranger Things does have it all pretty well. It has the dark creepy atmosphere and a fantastic and mysterious world created. The cast is fantastic from the kids to the teens to the adults who all deliver strong roles. While certain roles had more character development than others, it is important to realize that this is TV and not just a movie, so what isn’t done here could most possibly be continued on and focused on in the second season. The beauty of watching TV series is the ability to tell a story that can keep a good pacing but still leave room for the story to expand and/or go deeper into its world and lore. Suffice to say, this was a refreshing experience and we’re looking forward to season 2 which releases in just a few days!

TV Binge: Orange is the New Black (Season 5, 2017)

Next up in the overdue TV Binge recaps is the newest season of Orange is the New Black. I saw this some time before Fantasia Festival so it got backed up but here we are.

As usual, if you plan on watching Season 5 and haven’t yet or haven’t caught up with Orange is the New Black, this is a spoiler warning. The content itself will fall into some spoilers.

Orange is the New Black (Season 5, 2017)

Orange is the New Black

Creator: Jenji Kohan

Cast: Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Lea DeLaria, Adrienne C. Moore, Laura Prepon, Jackie Cruz, Natasha Lyonne

 Orange Is The New Black has come a long way from what it was. Last season took away Poussey and had the Black Lives Matter theme while giving a riot the grounds to start with the new guards coming in place and showing their true colors. Whether it was from inexperience or from their brutality, they all contributed to the rebellion and with all that has been going on, Daya ends Season 4 holding a gun to the despicable Humphrey’s head. The questions that lingered over their heads were plentiful. What direction would this take?

Season 5 has 13 episodes however the show’s time frame is the processes of a riot or prison shutdown that the prisoners enforce over three days. With the different groups in Litchfield, the prison falls apart. The main powers now go with the Latinas as Daya uses her gun to stay in control. Daya however is also controlled by Maria. However, the power shifts eventually turn to Leanne and Angie. While the powers shift, we have groups dealing with the trapped but not able to escape in time celebrity, Judy King who is now being turned around for others to bid. Taystee and her crew are trying to use this riot to make it mean something and get justice for Poussey’s death. While there are peacemakers outside that are happy to sit this one out to not increase their sentence with Alex. Unlikely friendships and alliances, unsolved or repressed issues that has surfaced and many of how to approach this riot and lockdown on Litchfield is what makes this season what it is.

orange is the new black

My main issue with this season was the slow start. I know some of my friends enjoyed the entire season. I’ve been feeling this way about Orange is the New Black for a while now where it stumbles on finding its footing and its starting to get lost in what made it great in the first place. However, somewhere around episode 4 or 5, I remember something happening that truly changes the pace and from there on, its emotional and funny and quirky and odd. The characters find where they stand and what they want. We start seeing characters from outside the facility and the balance of those trapped inside also. This seasons’s heavy hitters had a change of pace, giving more spotlight to Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks. While she was always one of the main characters, this season gave her more emotions to deal with as well as inner conflict and finding her strength. At the same time, the girls who play meth heads or drug addicts or whatnot, Angie and Leanne also get more space as their stupidity takes the spotlight when they end up miraculously having the power and abuse it in the oddest way. Boo also has something of a stronger story arc which links to Linda, Caputo’s girlfriend who gets caught up in the mix from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the same time, the highlight definitely goes to Red and Blanca forming an unlikely alliance.

Orange Is The New Black Season 5

That is really all I have to say about the latest season of Orange is the New Black. Overall, it takes a few episodes to find its footing, then its a crazy ride to the finale. We tackle the characters trying to find peace with the death of Poussey as well as focusing on a few other relationships and how this whole situation may have brought out the best and the worst in everyone. There are some fun, funny, stupid and a lot of over the top moments. Its not my favorite season but it definitely won me over as we got to the end. The finale was pretty satisfying and it’ll be interesting to see how the next season will go with how its all turned out.

TV Binge: Gilmore Girls (Season 1, 2000)

What was I doing in 2000? That was the question I asked myself when I looked at Gilmore Girls and everyone was talking about it because of the revival season on Netflix and I had never even seen an episode. I remember vaguely watching a snippet but back then, I was 14 and I remember TV time being rather sparse and when I did have a long TV time, it was usually spent binge-watching Hong Kong TV series over an entire weekend. What can I say? It was my life back then. With that said, I couldn’t just sit around and not get this hype so I had to watch it. As I’m writing this TV Binge, I am currently halfway through Season 3. So, let’s just say, I want to get this over with and get back to binging some more.

Let’s go!

Gilmore Girls (Season 1, 2000)

Gilmore Girls

Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Keiko Agena, Scott Patterson, Yanic Truesdale, Kelly Bishop, Edward Herrmann, Melissa McCarthy, Jared Padalecki, Liza Weil, Chad Michael Murray

A drama centering around the relationship between a thirty-something single mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. – IMDB

 Gilmore Girls is an interesting little show. Why do I say this, despite probably a lot of fans agreeing with already? The Gilmore girls, naming thirty something mother, Lorelai and her teen daughter Rory, have an amazing dynamic. They talk fast and rebound each other really well. There is a connect and a charm and a fantastic chemistry. Its kind of the dream mother-daughter relationship. Perhaps, my fascination with it is that it really builds their characters through their snarky and sassy comments. Their comebacks are sometimes silly but always a lot of fun. Actually that is really just the beginning of what makes this show, and this first season, such a hook. What makes this show is the characters and that applies to everyone.

Things I love/like:

  • Gilmore Girls (Rory and Lorelai): Both Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham), are not only mother and daughter but they are best friends and tell each other *almost* everything. This almost is sometimes what causes their arguments and differences in opinions and how certain situations are treated. Even their arguments are more like children fighting. Individually, these characters create a similar but contrast whether its their coffee addiction or their love of mocking movies together or their constant sarcastic comments. Whether its being adult or a teen, they both are sheltered by Star Hollows and in the most awkward situations will still do some pretty funny things or say some equally awkward comments that doesn’t ease up the situation.
  • Sookie (played by Melissa McCarthy): What I can only assume is a breakout role for Melissa McCarthy without looking at her filmography (you can correct me in the comments if you’d like), Sookie is one of the most hilariously endearing characters on the show because she not only is passionate for her food and her chef. What seems petty and silly like arguing over the quality of vegetables to Jackson, her vegetable provider and her clumsiness in general, makes for some fun little snippets. Her character here is really different from the roles she has taken in the last few years, at least the humor is much more subtle and more my pace.

Gilmore Girls

  • Dean (played by Jared Padelecki): I’ve watched a grand total of one episode of Supernatural. I know I should catch up with that and it might happen after Gilmore Girls. Jared Padelecki plays Dean, who really has a not so frequent appearance since Gilmore Girls uses the supporting characters to build up the character of Lorelai and Rory. Dean is Rory’s first boyfriend and in many ways, he also is a fantastic character because he kind of is that first boyfriend that we’d love to have. He cares a lot for Rory, supports her and wants to be there for her a lot while stil making okay with her having to spend time with her mom and the extra time studying. He’s a sweet boy.
  • Luke (played by Scott Patterson): Perhaps one of the most crankiest characters on the show who just can’t help but give in to Lorelai and has no idea how to deal with these Gilmore Girls, but I am totally team Luke. I’m pretty sure eventually the chemistry between Luke and Lorelai will happen. They are both just too stubborn to give in to it or want to ruin the friendship they have now.

Gilmore Girls

  • Chilton Academy students: Rory getting into Chilton is probably what kickstarts a lot of motion right from the beginning. It highlights the relationship with her parents. It brings Rory’s father more into the picture in some way and also sparks up Rory’s life to be more competitive. She starts to break out of the protective barrier she had even if a bit of her expectations to focus on studying is shattered because if anything, the students at Chilton are even harsher to deal with. The standout probably goes to Paris Gellar (played by Liza Weil) who is so funny to watch and becomes somewhat of a frenemy by the end of the season. As well as Chad Michael Murray who sadly only had a few scenes as the rich bad boy who likes Rory a lot. I have a soft spot for Chad Michael Murray so it was great to see him there.  
  • Lane Kim & Mrs. Kim: Lane is played by Keiko Agena, who is Rory’s best friend and Mrs. Kim is her very strict Korean mother played by Emily Kuroda. The whole strictness of her mother makes for some hilarious moments especially when her best friend is Rory who has the most relaxed upbringing especially with a cool mom like Lorelai. Lane’s sneaking around her contraband music and everything and her random appearances sometimes makes for some great times.

gilmore girls

Something I’m lukewarm about:

  • Max Medina (by Scott Cohen): Max is Lorelai’s love interest who also is Rory’s teacher in Chilton and man, as much as I think he is quite charismatic and there’s some great moments, there’s something about his character that seems incredibly scripted.

I know that I kind of just highlighted characters for the pros and cons. Fact is, Gilmore Girls’ charm is really in its characters and their adventures and misadventures. I haven’t even started with the people at Stars Hollow because they are quite a cute and entertaining bunch as well. There’s also Lorelai’s co-workers and so on. I’m sure they’ll make some more appearances later. To say that, the journey and the finale was pretty awesome for the first season of Gilmore Girls. Its probably why I broke my normal habit of writing up this post before moving on. I just needed to know what happened next.

Are you a fan of Gilmore Girls?